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Nicole R. Dorey, PhD

Nicole R. Dorey, PhD
Nicole R. Dorey, PhD

Nicole became interested in animal training, and specifically, decreasing problem behavior in animals, as a graduate student at the University of North Texas. One of her first endeavors was an olive baboon that was engaging in self injurious behavior which caused huge lacerations on its arms and legs. With Nicole’s knowledge of behavior analysis, her first thought was to see what was maintaining the baboon’s problem behavior and to conduct a functional analysis. From the data collected with this method, she found that the cause of the problem was the keepers telling the baboon to “stop doing that." This simple statement was acting as a reinforcer and increasing the self injurious behavior. Nicole was able to eliminate the baboon’s self injurious behavior by telling the keepers to ignore the behavior and only speak to the baboon when it was doing an appropriate behavior. This was the first time a functional analysis had been used with an animal. It has since been used to determine the maintaining variable of self injurious behavior in other captive primate species.

After this project, Nicole proceeded with her PhD at the University of Exeter, focusing on investigating social learning in a variety of zoo animals and dogs. In her spare time at the Paignton Zoo, she consulted on training, decreasing problem behaviors, and successfully co-organized a training workshop.

She moved to Florida after receiving her PhD, and began working as a postdoctoral fellow, where she has published a number of papers and book chapters on canine social cognition and behavior. Nicole’s current focus is on developing a line of research which will serve the dog training community and to seek a deeper understanding of the factors that underlie problem behavior. She believes her research will provide dog trainers with a more informed way of choosing training methods.

Nicole is a board member for the Animal Behavior Management Alliance (ABMA) and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Florida teaching a variety of courses including Animal Cognition and Research Methods. Nicole has been an invited speaker to a number of national and international conferences and workshops and her work has been featured in the media including, among others, Discovery News.



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